Category Archives: Featured

fall autumn leaves

Shared Ministry

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Autumn! Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love to see the colorful trees, smell the fallen leaves, hear the wind whistling through the branches, taste pumpkin flavored coffee and other goodies, and feel the cool, crisp autumn air on my face. It is a great time to be in Minnesota.

First, I want to send a huge THANK-YOU to all of you for supporting my trip to Honduras. I am very excited about being part of the wonderful relationship between the Honduras Lutheran Church and the Northeastern Minnesota synod. I am eager to return and share with you all about the things I learned and the people I met. I am especially interested in meeting the newly ordained Honduras pastors and participating in theological workshops and information sessions with them. I also want to reiterate that our congregation’s support of Honduras doesn’t take away from our historical mission support for Jamaica. We can do both.

Second, I want to update everyone on the shared ministry exploration meeting from Sept 20th between Messiah, Gethsemane and Our Savior’s councils with Pastor Amy Odgren who serves as the NE MN Synod Director for Evangelical Mission. It was a very positive and light-hearted meeting in which we reflected on our shared history of working and serving together primarily through youth education, youth ministry, social events, and worship. We discussed how we all share the same call to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our everyday lives, and we creatively imagined how we can live out our call with more collaboration from our ELCA neighbors.

The meeting concluded with the formation of a 9-person team (3 from each congregation) to continue discussions and exploration of possible Shared Ministry and staff utilization in the areas of youth programming, women’s missions, seasonal worship (Lent and summer midweek), occasional joint worship services, and community outreach. This team is scheduled to have their first meeting on October 23rd. If you would like to have personal input about these topics, I invite you into conversation with me. I am always available to you.  Shared Ministry is the current focus. Currently, we are being very intentional that our purpose is to continue building closer relationships with our ELCA neighbors while combining participation in some similar programs and occasional worship services.  Pr. Odgren was careful to differentiate Shared Ministry from other congregational combinations which are NOT being discussed at this time such as Merger (complete union through closure) and Consolidation (new entity through name change). The September 20th meeting showed that Messiah, Gethsemane, and Our Savior’s have a shared unity in Christ and many, many strengths to bring together for the sake of the communities we live in and serve, both here and beyond. The future is exciting, and it is very clear that the Holy Spirit is boldly leading all of us toward amazing things.

Thank you for being the person you are. You are a blessing to OSLC.

With Grace~ Pastor Erik

 

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All people. . .

Mark 9:38-40

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.  40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

 There are an estimated 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. That is a lot! The majority of the 40,000 are small splinter groups from mainline denominations or they are unaffiliated stand-alone congregations. For me, it is interesting to think about how one Bible is the authority of so many different groups. Different groups mean different theological interpretations, different points of emphasis, and different ways of worship. A look at the nightly news and basic study of history shows that people often look towards other denominations with suspicion and even aggression. World history headlines from the past two thousand years show that these differences have directly led to, or at least played a role in major wars resulting in countless tragedies. This reading from Mark 9 firmly directs us to reexamine how we interact with and treat people from other Christian traditions. Simply stated, Jesus tells us that different is ok. The name of Jesus is what truly matters, and the name of Jesus is what transcends cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences in order to bring all people together.

This week, I invite everyone to have a conversation with someone from a different Christian tradition to share something about church or worship style and to also learn something new about another group.

A few years ago I heard an excellent sermon which used the phrase, “remember, different people are not a failed attempt at being you. All people are unique expressions of being children of God.”

With grace~ Pastor Erik

Youth various ages

Youth Announcements – Autumn is Here!

 

Happy Autumn OSLC!

Yes, we are in full swing of the changing season, as well as the full swing of Confirmation and our Fall Youth events! Firstly, I want to thank everyone so much for being so welcoming to this community of faith, I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and smiles I have received thus far! I appreciate getting to know everyone, as well as those who have eagerly volunteered to help me with Confirmation and Sunday school.

October is going to be a busy month for our youth in a variety of different ways! Sunday School is in full swing and now takes place immediately after service in the Sanctuary. It will about 20-40 minutes long this year, and I’m an fortunate enough to have Julie Louks helping me out as well! October 3rd will the first day of Confirmation classes at Messiah for our 6-9th graders! The steering committee, parents, and guides have met a few times throughout September to set up Confirmation, and we are ready to deepen our faith in a variety of different ways!

On October 14th we have a Confirmation Family Retreat up at Camp Vermillion in which all the Confirmands, and their families from Gethsemane, Messiah, and Our Savior’s are invited to spend an afternoon at camp! We have rented a school bus to take the majority of us up there, however families are welcome to drive themselves! We will leave at Noon from Our Savior’s parking lot, and have an afternoon filled with worship, games, and leave with a meal! I encourage all Confirmation families to attend! We also have the Middle School Youth Gathering on November 17-18 to look forward to!

October 28th is Reformation Sunday in which we will be confirming all our 10th graders! It’s an exciting time in which all the 10th grade students will be sharing their Faith testimonies. They will be able to highlight some of their Faith journey experiences, as well as share how they plan to share their Faith in their journey ahead! If you have any questions, comments, concerns about any youth events feel free to reach out to me! Thank you all again for welcoming me to your Congregation with open arms!

Ben

 

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UPCOMING: Fun Events & Bible Study Times

Below is a list of events, meetings, ongoing Bible Study times, and Fall  retreat information.

Fall Group Reminders:  

  • Mondays @  2pm The Rouchleau Women’s Study  takes place at Rouchleau Apartments, 602 North 3rd Avenue, Virginia
  • Mondays @ 5pm Choir practice in the sanctuary
  • Mondays, 6:30pm-8:30pm Boy Scouts Troop #129 meets
  • Tuesdays: WELCA Circles will resume their monthly meetings on Tuesdays (discussion & devotion/study time) 9:30am & 1pm
  • Wednesdays at 7:30am – Men’s Perkin’s Breakfast & Study Group
  • Wednesdays 8am – 2pm Ladies Quilting has resumed in the Fellowship Hall
  • Wednesdays @ 2pmOSLC Bible Study is in the Fireside or youth room – NEW TIME!
  • Wednesdays: Confirmation to begin Oct. 3rd @ 6:30pm, Messiah Lutheran Church is the fall location.
  • Thursdays at 3pm Ladies Study @ Adventures Restaurant
  • Thursdays: Council will meet the 2nd Thursday of the month  @5pm
  • Pasty Sales: The OSLC Pasty Sale is ongoing – order through Oct.14th in the narthex, pick up date is Saturday, Oct. 20th, 1-2pm @ the Eveleth Masonic Lodge.
  • Homemade Apple Pie Sale: WELCA will be selling apple pies this next month. You can order them Oct. 28th & Nov. 4th, and pick them up Nov. 18th.
  • Via de Cristo: The “Way of Christ” Retreat where experiencing the Gift of God’s Grace happens! This year it will be held at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. Men’s Weekend is Oct. 4th-7th, Women’s Weekend is from Oct. 11th-14th, co-ed event Nov. 8th in Kasson, MN (south). RSVP to Butch or Betty @ 218-741-2682. More events to come in the spring. Check the website for more information: https://www.mnviadecristo.org/news/index.php

Confirmation News:

Confirmation Program 2018-19
Dear Parents of 6th-9th Graders,
The Holy Spirit is alive and moving on the Iron Range.  In the last year, our area Lutheran congregations have been saying many goodbyes to beloved leaders. Transitions are rough on congregations, but they can also be opportunities. As our congregations discern what the Spirit is calling of our churches, it has been proposed creating a collaborative confirmation program. This Summer our youth walked together and deepened their faith on the synod journey to Houston. In this spirit, we are working to create a program together with Messiah, Gethsemane, and Our Saviors. At this time, we are still working out details between congregations. We want this to be an engaging program where our students grow in faith and Christian Community to love and serve others. We ask for your prayers and patience as we continue to work out the logistics. Confirmation is coming and it’s going to be awesome this year. God’s Blessings, Tauna Roth Lay Parish Assistant, Messiah Lutheran Church TaunaMRoth@gmail.com 218-404-0621

Confirmation News & Dates

October 3 @ 6:30  Confirmation Classes Begin!! Fall location will be at Messiah Lutheran, Wednesdays at 6:30 (we do follow the school system for MEA)! We will rotate between Messiah, OSLC, and Gethsemane during the year, with the seasons. Parents will be notified of locations by email, postcard, and and bulletin.Confirmation Group Guides
The Confirmation Program is in need of adults to lead a small group.  Support and Curriculum are provided.  Pairs are welcome to volunteer as a team.  Please contact the church if you are interested in becoming a group guide.

Autumn Maple leaf transition and variation concept for fall and change of season

The Changing Season

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Every day I notice the maple tree in my front yard gets a few more red and yellow leaves on it. When the tree first started turning, I was dismayed and even a bit upset. I want to tell the tree that it is WAY too early. I’m not ready! Summer is not over yet. There are still summer events, destinations and projects on my to-do-list. Autumn means school is starting, rally day, confirmation, committee meetings, etc. Where did the time go? However, I only grumbled for a day or two, then I began viewing the colorful tree in a different way. I began viewing the tree with enthusiasm and joy, because it means that school is starting, confirmation will begin, the new committee structure will be presented and get into full action, and all the church people will be back in the pews on Sundays. Getting back into “full-church-mode” (quote from my grandma) is something to be very enthusiastic and joyful about. Full-church-mode is a good thing. It means the Spirit is active.

Speaking of my to-do-list, here are some updates I want to communicate with all of you.

  • Our new Director of Youth and Christian Education, Ben Anderson, will be formally joining our ministry team on September 5th and Rally Sunday will be his first Sunday at Our Saviors! I know last December my family and I felt very welcomed by the church (I still feel very welcomed) and I know you’ll show the same generosity, kindness, and hospitality to Ben.
  • Rally Sunday is Sept 9th! We will have a bouncy house, games and snacks after worship. During worship we will celebrate our youth by giving Bibles. We will also recognize the wonderful Eucharist team. Sunday school will begin the following Sunday. Full-church-mode!
  • OSLC, Gethsemane, and Messiah will have confirmation together this year. This has been a big project in the making with lots of meetings and communication amongst the churches. I think that all the kids will benefit from having a large group of friends, guides, pastors and mentors walking with them in their faith journey. There are too many details to list and I am personally communicating with the confirmation families about dates and questions. It is going to be great!
  • I am going to join our synod’s companion team trip to Honduras the first week in October. As you all know, Global Mission is a passion of mine and I am very excited about participating in this program. Several pastors from our synod are going to be leading theology, church administration, and pastoral-care workshops for newly ordained Honduran pastors. I will invite you to participate in a fund-raiser during September for a portion of the trip’s cost.
  • Later in September, Pastor Amy Odgren from the Synod office will visit with the church councils of OSLC, Gethsemane, and Messiah and lead a visioning discussion about ministry, stewardship, and where is the Holy Spirit is leading our three congregations in the future.

I want to thank all of you for your faithfulness, grace, and kind words. There is a lot to look forward to and be excited about. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let me know. You are the church and I am always looking for ways to serve the church better and more efficiently.

Autumn Blessings ~ Pastor Erik

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Blessed & Overjoyed

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope your summer is going well. It is hard to believe August is already upon us. The past two weeks went by especially quick. I was able to spend a week visiting my family in WI as well as attend a conference at Luther Seminary entitled “Rethinking Stewardship- from solemn obligation to inspired choice.” Playing card and board games into the wee hours of the morning with my family, picking cherries with Nozomi and Ronin, enjoying nature, and watching sunrises and sunsets over the harbor were the highlights of my vacation. I am also looking forward to sharing with you what I learned at the rethinking stewardship conference. I feel like the past two weeks have refreshed by soul.

I am very grateful for the past two weeks because congregational life for the foreseeable future is shaping up to be busy and eventful. Notably, a priority for us is to find a new person to direct our youth and family ministries. We surely miss Meagan, but we excitedly await the unique gifts and talents of our next colleague in Christ. We currently have several advertisements about the position, and we are hopeful to fill the position soon. If an intriguing person comes to mind, please encourage that person to check out all the details about the position from our website or give the church office a call. I am confident in God’s guidance and joyfully looking forward to where the Holy Spirit leads us next. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers, patience and continued participation in the congregation.

I also want to use this month’s newsletter to share with you my thoughts about the ELCA churches here in the Quad Cities. For many years, there has been interest and conversation about churches collaborating in shared ministry as well as even merging together. Because merging together is a very serious subject, and there are lots of emotions and details involved I want to be as open and straight forward as possible. Interest in having these conversations and working together to develop proposals has recently been renewed. To be clear, so far there haven’t been any formal conversations about merging. I invite OSLC into an intentional time of prayer and discernment about hopes, dreams and goals. I’d like to frame this discernment in terms of stewardship. A theological point to make is the church and all its resources belongs to God. God has called us and entrusted us to use, manage, and share God’s resources as efficiently as possible.  We are guided by the Holy Spirit-and God continuously invites us to participate with God in God’s mission.

Your thoughts and feedback are valuable and needed. Please share them with me. I will keep the congregation informed if any formal conversations are scheduled.

I am so blessed to be part of this loving community of faith. I am overjoyed and honored to be called to serve as your pastor, and I am excited to see what God will do next. Enjoy the rest of the summer.      Enjoy your family and friends and God’s beautiful creation.

Your fellow servant in Christ~ Pastor Erik

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Trust. . . Believe

John 6:35, 41-51

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

 41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

             We are currently in the midst of the “bread of life” lectionary series. I want to point out a few things to help make more sense of Jesus’ message and the imagery. In verse 49, Jesus references the time of the exodus when Moses lead the people from Egypt to the “Promised Land.” While on their journey the people complained about being hungry and God provided them with manna to eat. At its heart, the manna story is about trust in God. Scripture tell us that manna had to be collected according to the instructions God gave (Exodus 16:16-26), so obeying God’s instructions served as a way for the people to learn to trust God. Deuteronomy summarizes the story this way: “Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you not your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

New Testament scholar Susan Hylen wrote, “The Greek word pisteuo, which is translated “believe” throughout John, was more commonly used to convey a trusting relationship. Thus, even though John is concerned that readers understand that Jesus is who he claims to be, pisteuo might better be translated as “trust” in these verses. John emphasizes throughout the Gospel that the audience should trust the witnesses to Jesus, along with Jesus’ own words and signs, and through these things come to trust in Jesus. This sense of the word pisteuo is surely in play in John 6:35, 47. The one who trusts in Jesus feeds on the bread of life. Like the manna, trust is required to access the life Jesus offers.”[1]

God’s peace to you all. Have a blessed week and trust/believe that God will continue to take care of you.

Blessings~ Pastor Erik

[1] https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3742

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The all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God is always accompanying us. . .

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are many thank-you notes, and words of congratulations to share. First, I want to thank all the people who helped make the Houston trip possible for our young men and women. By Meagan’s leadership and resourcefulness, all the participants will have faithful and meaningful memories to carry with them forever. The success of this trip truly was a whole congregation effort because everyone provided prayers and resources. Secondly, I want to send a huge thank you too all the people who participated in the clothing sale. It was a lot of hard work, but well worth it. I know many people are grateful for the kindness and generosity that Our Savior’s shows to the community. Finally, words of congratulations to all those who graduated. Well done. God is using you and your gifts to further God’s Kingdom.

I can confidently say that our congregation is doing well. Everyday I see and hear about acts of kindness, love, humility, excitement, and inclusiveness. I am very honored to be part of this church. Even though our congregation is doing well, we all notice that there are relational, environmental and political challenges, struggles and heartbreak in other parts of our county and world. In reflection of these wider issues I want to direct you to chapters 4, 5 and 6 from the gospel of Mark. We will also be reading these chapters in worship on Sundays for the next couple weeks. While you read, whenever you come across the words fear, afraid, terrified, I encourage you to get out your highlighter or pen and circle that word. Examine who the characters are who are fearful and take notice of what they do because of their fear. One of the topics from these chapters in Mark is the topic of fear and specifically how people react to fear. I’m writing about this topic because it seems to me the most troubling issues of 2018 are related to people reacting to fear in hurtful and unhealthy ways. I hope by studying the Bible and Gospel message, we can equip ourselves and help equip others to use our faith and react to fear with confidence and grace.

Throughout these chapters in Mark, we often see the hurtful and unhealthy ways in which people, especially the disciples, reacted to fear. I will point out a few of these examples (there are several more that you can uncover through study). When Jesus Stills the Storm in Mark 4:35-41, we see the disciple reacting with hopelessness and accusing Jesus of not caring about them.  The swineherds from chapter 5 were afraid and their reaction to fear was to reject Jesus and beg him to leave their neighborhood. Because it is such a dynamic story, most people are familiar with the verses about Jesus walking on the water in chapter 6. A detail that most people miss from that story is that the disciple’s response to fear and not-understanding is simply to harden their hearts. Later in Chapter 9:30-33, the disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ teaching and were afraid to ask him to clarify so they were silent. Their reaction to fear was ignorance.

Simply put, faith enables us to face our fears with bravery and confidence because we know that the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God is always accompanying us. By reading these chapters together and reflecting on them, I am confident we can face our fears with grace, wisdom, and compassion. When people are not trained to use their faith they often react to fear by being hopeless, judgmental, violent, ignorant and reject Christ himself.

There are two messages of good news for you today. The first is – you have faith. God has given faith to you and you can rely in your faith to get you through the most frightening issues. The second is – even if you fail and succumb to let fear guide you, God will never give up on you. The disciples constantly failed, but God never abandoned them. God will never abandon you either. God loves you and always will.

Have a Blessed Summer~ Pastor Erik

kids helping kids

Be Bold in Your Love. . .

Amos 2:7 5:24 and 6:4-6

2:7“they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals — they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way”

5:24  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

6:4-6 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; Who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; Who drink wine from bowl, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, But are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

                Whoa! Amos is being quite bold in his words. Some questions to ask ourselves today. What will God do in response to the cruelty and greed expressed by people? (Please read all of Amos and find out)

Is life today in 2018 much different than mid-700 B.C.? What is God going to do next?

We are going to read part of Amos this Sunday. I love Amos because of his bold courage and because of his deep concern and love for others. His concern and love are often overshadowed because of the harshness of his words, but his love is revealed by urging people to repent and lead humble and generous lives in order to avoid calamity.

A commentary by professor Elaine James helps to clarify. “As theologian James Cone writes, ‘Most theological treatments of God’s love fail to place the proper emphasis on God’s wrath, suggesting that love is completely self-giving without any demand for obedience. Bonhoeffer called this ‘cheap grace.’  1. God’s love demands righteousness, and breaches of God’s call to justice and love cause God grief. As Amos is keen to show us, God is not indifferent to human suffering, oppression, and injustice. Cone goes on: ‘The wrath of God is the love of God in regard to the forces opposed to liberation of the oppressed.’  2. God’s judgment, for Amos, is a manifestation of relationship with a living God, a God of passion who deeply cares.”

I hope everyone has a great week. Be bold in your love. Blessings~ Pastor Erik

Amos article

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3700

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Hello from Houston!

Isn’t it wonderful to see the Journey come to fruition? Many of you have contributed to make this National Youth Gathering trip possible; and you are very much appreciated for your thoughtfulness and hard work!

Won’t you continue to pray for the youth and youth workers who have embarked on this important journey to Houston~ Please pray for Hailey, Kelsey, Katie, Ryan, Jace, Jayda, Alex, Eric & Meagan, and all the youth & youth workers from neighboring churches who are also attending. 

You can find updates while they are in Houston on our facebook page (Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Virginia MN) and also at  http://elca.org/gathering.